Airlie Beach Race Week - Even the best sailors can get it wrong, at least once. Just ask the skipper of Performance Racing Division leader Ichi Ban, Matt Allen.
Airlie Beach Race Week 2013, Performance Racing's Ichi Ban and Menace approach the Mandalay Mark for the first time - Abell Point Marina Airlie Beach Race Week 2013
Allen is a highly experienced skipper having won many inshore and offshore events both in Australia and in Asia. He races with a professional team of young sailors, all of whom know what to do and when. But just this once, someone on board wasn’t carefully studying the flags on the start boat.
Approaching the first mark of today’s race in the Abell Point Marina Airlie Beach Race Week, Allen’s 40-foot Ichi Ban, along with New Zealand entry, the 38-foot Menace, rounded the mark the wrong way. A helpful call on the radio from the race committee advising all boats that the rounding should be to starboard as indicated on the start boat alerted the two leading boats to their predicament. Both had to return to the mark to round it correctly.
Howard Spencer’s Menace got around cleanly the second time. Ichi Ban however then had the misfortune of hitting the mark forcing the team to complete another full turn around the mark, all in very soft winds.
On their third attempt they slipped around in the soft breeze and away up the passage course north to Gumbrell Island.
In a daring move, Ichi Ban then tacked off to the right hand side of Pioneer Bay, sailing away from the fleet. They picked up a breeze line to take them comfortably out to the northern islands, gaining ground on Menace throughout the 27 nautical mile.
Unfortunately the mistakes of the morning cost Ichi Ban a good result in the long race, forcing them back into second place overall behind Philip Grove’s Sydney-based yacht, Huntress.
What race do we run today?
This is not normally a question a race committee has to contend with. The program is set in advance and pretty much that is what is delivered. However, the soft winds of the first four race days of this year’s Abell Point Marina Airlie Beach Race Week have taken their toll on the race scheduling.
With another day of light winds predicted, PRO Ross Chisholm seriously considered keeping all 110 boats inshore. However, by 8.45am he made the tricky call of sending off on a passage race all bar the Sports Boats and IRC Racing divisions.
It was slow progress for the Performance Racing, OMR and Performance Multihulls, and for the monohull Cruising divisions. The boats chased breeze lines and slipped gently across the glassy patches in anything between zero and four knots to finish the shortened course at Grimston Point.
Today was Huntress’s day. Philip Day and his team sailed a smart course to finish just seven seconds on corrected time ahead of their regatta rival, Charles Wallis’s Reignition.
'Our handicaps are about the same. It’s really good to be sailing against one other boat. You really try everything you can. You get very careful and calculating with what you are doing. At the end of the day though, as wind strength and wind direction comes and goes, one or other of the boats will get an advantage. And at the end of the day it was our big asymmetrical that pulled us ahead.
'We are all still congratulating ourselves. There are still the drops, but Ichi Ban has a bigger drop. But they are going to have fight us for it. They need to get two boats between us and them,' Day said.
Before the Huntress team celebrate their race win they a small job to complete. 'At the beginning of the week one of the crew kicked a whole set of sail battens into the water. We have since been diving for them. The only person on the boat who is a capable diver and who got them, is a young lady, Chantelle. All the boofheads on the boat had no idea what to do. She then decided to give the bottom a clean,' a very happy Day said.
The top three overall results for this division at the end of today’s racing, with five races completed, are Huntress on 15 points, Ichi Ban on 19 points and both Menace and Damian Suckling’s Fiasco on equal 20 points.
Airlie Beach Race Week 2013, OMR Division 1 Morticia chases Performance Racing's Reignition on day five - Abell Point Marina Airlie Beach Race Week 2013
In OMR Division one, Morticia’s Chris Williams called the race 'painful', but who is he to complain when his team had just won their fifth straight race. They sailed the Sea Cart 30 beautifully through the glass-outs and the soft offshore northerly, sailing through the monohulls and well ahead of Mal Richardson’s Malice and George Owen’s APC Mad Max.
Overall this places Morticia in an unbeatable top position with five points. The battle tomorrow will then be between Jason Gard’s Spirit and Robert Remilton’s Wilparnia II, as long as both sail well the Pioneer Bay course.
In OMR Division two, handicap honours went again to Philip Day’s Rhythmic. The division is still being led by Andrew Stransky’s Fantasia on eight points, then Rhythmic on 10 points with Rupert King’s Overdrive on 18 points.
OMR Division three was won today by Gary Scott’s Coco Loco. The overall lead is with Mike Willcocks’s Hot Option on 11 points, followed by Tony Richardson’s Pocahontas on 15 points and Geoff Floyd’s Fifty Fifty on 16 points.
All these three divisions will be able to discard their worst result after tomorrow’s race.
In the PHS Multihull Division, the overall lead is still held by Clare and Wayne Kirby’s Clear Horizons.
There was enough pressure to get the boats down to the Mandalay Mark, but there they almost stalled until about three to four knots and an outgoing tide drifted them across the bay out towards Grimston Point.
All divisions had their race shortened as they returned to Pioneer Bay.
In Division one, Brad and Craig Ginnivan’s Fifty Shades of 50 finally got their race handicap win. Overall, after four races, the leaders have changed places with Richard Fader’s Infinity moving up to first place with 16 points, Mal Robertson’s Eureka II moving back to second place with 17 points and Fifty Shades of Fifty in third on 19 points.
In Division two, Keith McGuire’s Fargo was first on handicap. What a difference a day can make for this division with lots of changes at the top and no worst race discard to rely on. The top three are now James Irvine’s Mayfair on 22 points, then Bill Hopton’s Mistery on 24 points and in third, Craig Piccinelli on 30 points.
Airlie Beach Race Week 2013, WSC Commodore Rob Davis leads Cruising Division 3 to his first race week win - Abell Point Marina Airlie Beach Race Week 2013
Whitsunday Sailing Club commodore, Rob Davis and his Breakaway team were the winners today in Division three. 'It’s the first time I have ever won a race at race week. The angles today were very good for using our big asymmetric kite and we managed to carry that very shy and catch up to all the boys that were in front of us that needed to give us time. Then when we went around the islands we managed to work the tide flows very well. We went to the points and got a lot of tidal assistance and that kept us in the race,' Davis said.
The top three overall in Division three, after four races, are Andrew Barney’s Barney Army with 13 points, then Don Bowden’s Checkmate on 19 points and Gary Bruce’s Fly ‘N High on 20 points.
The Non Spinnaker Division race was comfortably won by Dan White’s Riff Raff. This still leaves John Galloway’s QLD Marine Services in the first overall on 10 points, but moves Peter Harrison’s Rumgutz up to second place on 12 points, equal with Nick Smail’s Huahine and Riff Raff. The door is wide open on who will win this division after tomorrow’s Pioneer Bay triangle race.
It was a case of trading places at the top of the fleet. Jason Ruckert’s Mister Magoo won race one and Noel Leigh-Smith’s Viper QLD came second. In race two the results were reversed. Then in race three, Mister Magoo was back on top with Viper QLD again in second.
Also trading top three places was Ray Carless’s Junior finishing fourth, third, then fourth again, to give him third overall on 27 points with Brett Whitbread’s Crank in fourth place on 32 points.
For now though, it’s going to be down to Mister Magoo and Viper QLD on the last day. The forecast is for 10 to 15 knots south-east, considerably different to what the crews have had for the last five race days.
'We had a pretty good run again today. The first race and the last race were really light.
'As soon as the breeze comes in, as Noel’s boat is about half the weight of ours; we are actually 800 kilo plus boat where his is about 400 kilos, what will happen tomorrow with the breeze is they will get up and plane and we don’t. They will nail us for sure on handicap.
'The wing boats like Crank and Vivace will clear out too on the reaching and longer legs.
'Hopefully it glasses out tomorrow or one of the maxis runs over the Viper and we will be there,' Ruckert joked.
The IRC Racing Division has three windward/leeward races today in shifty conditions that challenged the best of them. At the bottom mark it was about three to five knots, while at the top the breeze was kicking up to eight knots.
There were plenty of tussles on the start line with Local Hero’s skipper, Leigh Dorrington, mixing it up with the big boats on the pin end keeping the pressure on them on each start.
In race one, Gary McCarthy’s Brilliant Pearl came out the winner after getting a good start and keeping the pace on in the soft, five knot breeze. Bowman Josh Willis was surprised Brilliant Pearl went so well. 'We got in the right place on the start and then it was good crew work and one particular gybe, set, that gave us the result.'
In race two, it was local boat Tulip, skippered by Bernie Van’T Hof, who took handicap honours.
In the final windward/leeward race of the day, handicap honours went to a surprised Brilliant Pearl. They were called back on an OCS, but then recovered quickly to tack out to the left where they saw more pressure. 'No point going with the crowd,' quipped McCarthy. On the last run they gybed inshore to get out of the tide and found new pressure, and the rest is history.
The top three overall results for this division at the end of today’s racing, with six races completed and one drop, gives defending IRC Cruising Division champion Tulip the lead with 10 points. In second place is Bob Steel’s Quest on 12 points and in equal third place is Howard Piggott’s Flying Cloud and his previous boat, Brilliant Pearl, on 14 points.
The final day of racing in the six-day series, is tomorrow.
The Regatta Director, Denis Thompson, has advised that the race committee are planning to hold a windward/leeward race then a shorter bay race to complete the series.
The full results are on - Airlie Beech Race Week website